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The William R. Steinhaus Dutchess Rail Trail—named for the county executive who championed it—is a local treasure in the Hudson Valley region of New York. The 13.1-mile trail runs through what seems like a perpetually green landscape of dense tree cover, linking Poughkeepsie at the Hudson River with smaller towns to the southeast.
At its Poughkeepsie end, the Dutchess Rail Trail begins at a shared parking lot with the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. The stunning converted railroad bridge takes trail users over the Hudson River and leads directly to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail in Ulster County. Together, the three rail-trails were welcomed into Rails-to-Trails Conservancy’s Rail-Trail Hall of Fame in 2016 and offer a seamless, combined route of just over 20 miles. They are also part of the Empire State Trail, a developing 750-mile trail network spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany.
Traveling east from Poughkeepsie, the route passes a large golf course and Morgan Lake Park, a popular spot for fishing. After Morgan Lake, the trail begins to turn south, running through the communities of Arlington and LaGrangeville and skirting the eastern edge of Red Oaks Mill. This section includes an expansive bridge over NY 55, and the entire length of the trail features a mixture of new bridges and converted railroad bridges and tunnels.
In Wappinger, trail users travel along a section called Veterans Memorial Mile, which features signage honoring each of the five branches of the military. Traversing a wooded corridor, this segment offers a quiet place to reflect and remember those who have served their country.
The path continues through the town of East Fishkill and ends in Hopewell Junction. Approaching the terminus, you’ll pass the Hopewell Depot. Built in 1873, this former hub on the Maybrook Line of the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad now offers a museum and historical photo gallery inside. Across from the depot, visitors will also find a replica switching tower.
On its northern end, the Dutchess Rail Trail shares a trailhead with the Walkway Over the Hudson at 61 Parker Ave. in Poughkeepsie. To reach this parking lot from I-84, take Exit 13, and head north on US 9. Continue on US 9 N for 14.4 miles to NY 9G in Poughkeepsie; you will travel under the Walkway Over the Hudson on the way to this exit. Look for brown WALKWAY OVER THE HUDSON directional signs as you approach your exit. Turn right onto NY 9G, which becomes Washington St., for 0.6 mile. Turn left onto Parker Ave. In 0.3 mile, a large parking lot will appear on your left.
To reach the trailhead parking lot in Hopewell Junction from I-84, take Exit 16N for the Taconic State Pkwy. Take the parkway 3.9 miles to Exit 41 for Beekman Road/County Road 9. Take a left onto Beekman Road, and continue 2.2 miles, when the road merges with NY 82. Take your next right after the merger; this will be Turner St. A parking lot will appear on your right almost immediately after the turn onto Turner St.
Additional parking lots are available along the trail’s route at nearly every major road intersection.
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